Ivan the Terrible

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Ivan the Terrible

Ivan Vasilyevich, better known as Ivan the Terrible, was the first tsar of Russia. Crowned in 1547, he ruled Russia until his death in 1584. During his long reign, Ivan created a large empire, made various reforms of government and society, and consolidated power under a strong centralized state. However, legends grew up about Ivan's extreme cruelty and the reign of terror his large force of personal bodyguards waged against the Russian aristocracy.

tsar Russian ruler

aristocracy privileged upper classes of ociety; nobles or the nobility

Ivan's reputation had a great impact on Russian poetry, music, art, and legend. The character of Ivan appears in a number of legends, and his life and deeds have inspired poems, operas, and films. Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov wrote an opera called Ivan the Terrible. Russian director Sergei Eisenstein made a famous film, Ivan the Terrible, with music by Sergei Prokofiev.

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Ivan the Terrible name given to Ivan IV (1530–84), grand duke of Muscovy and first tsar of Russia. In 1581 he killed his eldest son Ivan in a fit of rage, the succession passing to his mentally handicapped second son Fyodor.

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Ivan the Terrible (Rimsky-Korsakov). See Maid of Pskov, The.

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Ivan the Terrible: see Ivan IV.